Nike has dominated the gen Z scene with its innovative ambitions and exciting collaborations for as long as we can remember, and now it seems as though Adidas is desperate for a seat at the table. The German sportswear manufacturer’s solution? A boring campaign starring Wednesday star Jenna Ortega as the face of Adidas Sportswear, the brand’s first new label in five decades. I know, I was confused too.
Situated between Adidas Originals and Performance, the Sportswear line aims to balance sports and style—at least that’s what Aimee Arana, Adidas’ general manager of Sportswear and Training hopes to achieve.
Speaking to Vogue, Arana explained that the new “lifestyle brand” will capitalise on changes that Adidas is witnessing within the market, propelled primarily by gen Z and fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ve probably all heard this by now, but there is more of a desire than ever before for the fashion consumer to be comfy, and to incorporate that into their everyday wear—a gap that has been narrowed significantly by explosive TikTok trends like #blokecore.
Surveys from research firm Piper Sandler as well as Ortega and South Korean football legend Son Heung-Min may have been enough to get a board of Adidas executives excited, but is it enough to win the ever so complicated hearts of our generation when the clothing shown in the campaign appears so lifeless?
Arana went on to explain to Vogue that young people are prioritising comfort in a post-pandemic society, but what we’ve seen of the label so far is painfully basic and critically fails to understand how gen Z approaches fashion. From a surface level, the drip in question looks shiny and cheap. The clothes aren’t aimed at a luxury market either like Adidas’ collaborations with Gucci, Prada, and the ever-controversial Balenciaga. All it’s currently giving is a bargain bin at the outlet store. Don’t even get me started on how ugly the shoes are.
We’ve seen raging successes with the internet aesthetics and subcultures like grandpacore and blokecore, but Adidas Sportswear’s first campaign is already missing the point. The aforementioned styles had an emphasis on being thrifty, environmentally-friendly and self servicing—the kind of practices that Adidas itself isn’t exactly well-known for.
In fact, it’s a company that’s been long under fire for using extortionate labour practices in less economically developed countries like the child labour scandal that rocked the company in 2000, or the more recent 2022 news that revealed Adidas may be linked to the forced labour of Uighurs in China.
Ortega becoming the brand’s first ambassador is a very smart move, but we know full well that star-studded editorials don’t make a clothing line relevant—that is, unless you’re Marc Jacobs’ Heaven… My feelings on Heaven are conflicted but credit where credit is due, Jacobs nailed the gen Z audience down to a T when he recruited fan-favourite Pamela Anderson amongst other trendy celebs.
The growing power of Adidas’ longtime rival, Nike, is backed up by its research and it’s clearly scaring the German company. The Piper Sandler research showed that 60 per cent of teens—from a sample of 14,500 people living in the US—said Nike was their favourite footwear brand, versus only 6 per cent of teens showing up to support Adidas.
The loss of Yeezy in 2022, thanks to Kanye West’s antisemitic meltdown, has also left a big, money-shaped hole in the pockets of the company. Expanding into the gen Z market is Adidas’ best bet at reclaiming dominance, but everything we’ve seen so far is failing to inspire confidence.
Although Arana is optimistic that the ‘new’ direction will boost Adidas sales, we know just how erratic and unpredictable the TikTok generation can be. C’mon, all the research in the world couldn’t have predicted trends like mermaid sleaze or balletcore.
Adidas Sportswear ultimately lacks any distinct identity, and even worse, it seems to completely misunderstand how young people are styling themselves. Literally five seconds spent on social media or a consultation with the content creators pushing fashion forward online would’ve shown the brand that simple, skinny, silhouettes paired with a very unexciting direction is far from what Adidas needs to push itself into the ever-changing youth markets.
The clothes are missing what gen Z so often finds appealing—the freedom to layer, style and express yourself as you see fit.
It’s no surprise why The Addams Family spin-off Wednesday became the mega hit that it is—from the pigtailed titular character’s notoriety in the world of all things emo and spooky to having Tim Burton at its helm, the series was bound to be a success.
This time, the deadpan, sarcastic, misanthrope queen that is Wednesday Addams was brought to life not only by the amazing actress Jenna Ortega, but also by renowned designer Colleen Atwood, the woman responsible for the show’s hair-raisingly good costumes.
The entire cast of Wednesday are in the sharpest of macabre threads. If you’re a fan of gothic costume and fashion like me, Atwood’s work in cinema is definitely one to keep up to date with. A longtime collaborator of Burton, the costume designer is also responsible for the iconic outfits seen in classic cult films such as Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, and Alice in Wonderland.
In an interview with Hypebae, Atwood shed some light on how she approached the reimagining of Wednesday’s character, from outfitting her in a gorgeous Alaïa dress for the now-viral Rav’n dance scene to her classic everyday Addams-style looks.
The costume designer told the publication that the aim was definitely to keep everything in tone and inspired by “the original Charles Addams comic strip. We used that to contrast against the traditional American public school setting.”
She went on to add, “Wednesday’s school uniform was hand-painted in black and grey stripes to set her apart from the other students who are all wearing colourful, typical clothing for high school students.”
So much detail went into these costumes, particularly when it came to selecting the patterns and textures of the materials used for every single outfit. Atwood explained that in order to keep in line with Wednesday’s signature monochrome palette, she played around with “combining different textures within the grid of black and white. We thought a lot about the environment of the scene and the lighting and how that would look on film.”
Of course, the narrow colour palette also meant that she had to play around a lot with “scale, patterns and textures to give variation.” Atwood’s shines as a designer because of her impeccable skills when it comes to considering every facet of an outfit, the sort of scrutiny which really helps to add variety to what could have been an otherwise really limited wardrobe.
It’s important to note that Atwood and her team were also able to achieve such stellar results in the show’s costumes thanks to the very nature of the series and its script. Though the intention was to keep it grounded in the original comic strip, Atwood revealed that they were able to “play within those bounds” and “had so much licence to build up [Nevermore Academy and Jericho]. It was a challenge and an opportunity.”
The creative licence shows, especially in the wider cast. While Wednesday and the rest of the Addams family don iconic Burton-esque stripes, patterns, and silhouettes, the other characters are rich with 60s fashion influence, with Principal Weems’ look, for example, being based upon a poster of American actress Tippi Hedren who starred in Hitchcock’s The Birds.
The costume expert shared a few additional details in a recent Harper’s Bazaar interview, where she stated that her main goal on Wednesday was to “pay homage but update” the costumes. The team had so much freedom with the wider cast that it made it even more important for them to get the Addams’ own costumes right through experimentation and innovation.
Given how obsessed gen Z is with fashion’s endless list of aesthetics and subcultures, it’s exciting to gain a greater understanding into the sheer amount of care that was put into these costumes. Ironically though, the infamous dress that Wednesday found in Jericho’s vintage store, implying it is retro, is in fact a modern piece that Atwood picked up in Alaïa’s New Bond Street shop after asking her assistant to model it.
Don’t look at the price tag if you love yourself though—in other words, you can dream on if you think you’ll find something as stunning as that in your local thrift store. And if it does ever show up, you’ll probably have to fight off the Depop girlies flocking to it before you can even get a second look.
But hey, Wednesday is based on celebrating the out of the ordinary after all, so never say never. On top of this, the show’s costumes capitalise on everything gen Zers love—60s and 70s throwback fashion, a vintage daydream, and the comeback of gothic and dark academia patterns and palettes. Forget about season two’s potential love triangle between Tyler, Xavier and Wednesday, I’m begging for more killer looks.